Travel Agents in the Search Engine World

Dear Travel Agent,

I will keep shouting and screaming until everyone listens! The difference between Travel Agents and Search Engines is that WE CARE!
Yes, we care! We will talk about every detail of each traveler’s trip. We can share our passion and enthusiasm. We can make sure our clients understand every aspect of their itinerary, and make sure all of their wishes come true during their trip. We can request their favorite meals for each part of the trip, and when necessary, explain that they are Vegan, but at the same time they are gluten free.  This is because we are humans dealing with other humans, and not machines. We can make sure that a certain couple gets separate beds (with a preference for one queen-size bed each). We can listen to their fears and worries. We can answer questions about vaccines and visas, and make sure that even though one passenger was born in Canada and the other was born in Bermuda, do all the research to figure out who needs what to get into the UAE.
Search engines just can’t and don’t do these things, and the worst part is, they make a traveler feel that they are on his/her own.
I have been traveling for over 29 years, and have visited 71 countries and counting (in May I am leaving for Cuba).  I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a person fighting with the poor manager of a hotel because s/he was sure that the online booking said that breakfast was included. The manager must explain over and over again that breakfast is included, but only the cold foods (not the hot stuff), and that the taxes on breakfast are not included. Meanwhile, my group is enjoying a delicious breakfast and does not have to be bothered with taxes, or the cappuccino they just ordered; they just watch the disagreement going on at the next table.
The same thing happens again at check out time. We only have to return keys, while watching the general manager trying to explain to an angry guest that ONLY the reservation was made online, but the payment needs to be taken care of at that moment. The upset traveler swears that they have already paid; they even remember the money being taken from their account.  They then promise loudly to leave a bad review of the hotel on TripAdvisor.
I laugh; honestly I do, because the hotel could have saved itself from bad reviews by using only travel agents. By the same token, smart travelers can save themselves a lot of aggravation by only booking travel with travel agents. The fact is, hotels feel that they need to compete online with other hotels, and cheap travelers are thinking that they will save money by booking directly through a search engine.
In my opinion, what the search engines are doing is a big favor to all travel agents. They are pre-qualifying travelers for travel agents. The cheap ones will always waste travel agents’ time. They will “copy” and “paste” itineraries, looking for the cheapest travel agent in town, or try to create the same itinerary by themselves on the internet. Who needs those clients?
Smart travelers understand that a travel agent’s service is like that of a good hairdresser or accountant. They know that in the end, they will have a great time, stress free, like beautiful hair done by a professional hairdresser, or having their taxes done right on April 15th by a good accountant. Only professionals provide outstanding service and travel agents deserve to be recognized for it!
For more information and questions, feel free to email


Starting a business seems like an overwhelming job. As excited and encouraged as we are to start our new business, especially in the travel industry where dreaming about places and talking about them seems so much fun, it is logical that we approach our friends and family for support and comfort. We know THEY will be there for us, they will book their trips with us, they will trust us, and they will be the most fun clients to work with.

Well… maybe some of us are really, really lucky and can find that kind of support, but honestly, most of the time, family and friends may not be planning to travel, or they feel they can find better deals on the internet, or in worst case scenarios, they are the nightmare clients we read about in postings and magazines.  These situations are most often the case.

So, the biggest question is: WHERE CAN I FIND MY CLIENTS?


Welcome to the real world!

First, let me introduce social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and some other ones that I am not so familiar with, but hopefully, most of you can navigate them well.

Second, try your community: Church, gym, clubs and all the places you belong (or they think you belong) so you can freely post your flyers or business cards.

Third, the old famous yet still reliable: local newspaper (yes, they will charge for it!)

Now that you have some different vehicles for gaining clients, you should decide if you want to specialize in certain areas. I highly recommend that you do so. This means that you will be able to call yourself an EXPERT at something. This does NOT mean that you cannot book other vacations. But travelers like to talk to experts, they like to recommend experts, and becoming an expert is a great investment in yourself. For example, compare the service of a travel agent to a hairdresser. Someone who is a colorist specializes in color. It doesn’t mean s/he can not cut, blow dry, wash, perm, etc., it means that s/he is BEST at coloring hair and in few years, everyone will recommend them for color, and they will become well-known as a colorist. The same applies for travel agents. Become a specialist in Adventure Tours, Honeymoons, Family Vacations, or Cruises, etc.

Be sure to wisely use all your different vehicles and TELL your family and friends, but don’t ask them for business.

Make your new clients your friends and they will be glad to recommend you to their friends and family 🙂



How to Close a Deal


As a tour operator I dealt with many travel agents who called our office quite frequently for different quotes. When I followed up with the travel agent, they were honest when they told me that the client had changed their mind, or bought with someone else, or that they had never heard back from the client. I could hear the frustration in their voices. Believe me, I was frustrated too. Who likes to work for nothing?

There were a few agents who were not as upset, even if they had lost the client, because they had charged a fee for consultation. But the real target of this business is not to make money on consulting fees, but to make commission, deliver a great trip, have a satisfied client who will recommend you to other potential clients.

So, what went wrong? It is easy to blame the client.

I like to think that sometimes we win and sometimes we learn (not lose). So let’s learn from those situations:

Personally, I believe that when talking to a client I need to be completely present with them on the phone or in person. I need to give them 100% of my attention. I can’t be distracted by driving, shopping, taking care of kids, or even feeding my pet. My client needs and deserves all of my attention.

I need to hear his/her voice to understand what kind of client they are. By hearing their voice, it’s easy to tell if this is the first call they are making to ask about the vacation, or if this is call number 8, but they are motionless in their decision making.

If they sound inexperienced, you need to guide them with your questions and do a reality check for all impossible requests. How many people? When and where? What is the budget? And finally, when will they be ready to book?

If the client comes to you for a proposal of 6 people to Italy and France, one week in July, for a budget including airfare of $1,000 each, the client needs a reality check, because that is too much for too little, at that time of the year, in that destination. A nice conversation will give you and the client more of an idea whether this is a serious commitment, or just someone with great intentions and dreams. Don’t promise to try to find a package for this amount of money, because you will be wasting each other’s time. But, also do not think that this is a client with no potential. Many times, these are “virgin” clients who just need to learn a little more about the place they are going, and adjust the time of year, budget, or even destination. Do that successfully, and you’ll have their business for life.

Also, don’t underestimate a motionless client. Many times you’ll have a client who has called many travel agents before you, and they seem to be tired of the same kinds of promises and answers. They may just need a little laugh, or a little of a “travel agent being original” and voila, you’ve got that client as well.

It’s very important to control the client by making sure you give them clear deadline dates for decisions and payments. Politeness and kindness go together when you are making efforts to control of the situation. You’ll close the deal every time if you listen carefully to your prospective clients.

More will be written on this subject. Feel free to write and ask questions to

Short and Sweet – Like a Fortune Cookie

Paper Dessert Cookie Asian Fortune Fortune Cookie I have noticed that every time I post a one line tip or inspirational message, I get a lot of likes on Facebook. But, when I post a longer piece of text, only a few travel agents read the whole post. I wish I could teach all that I know in a “fortune cookie” sized message, but I can’t.
Facebook has it own way of working, and I don’t even try to understand it anymore. I have close to 5,000 “friends” (the maximum number a person can have), and I wish more of them would read my words of guidance, and comment on anything they like, or that they don’t agree with, or if they think my advice is not relevant to their business of travel.
I try to post all 5 days during the work week. With more engagement, I can reach more people. I am hoping that more of my “friends” will look for my name, see one of my posts, and take a moment to “Like” it or to make a comment. That small effort would make a big difference in the number of people I can reach. I am sincere in offering my guidance and teaching what I know, all so I can give back to travel agents.
I really want to pay it forward and give back.
Can you help me to make this possible? Let’s make a deal!  Will you read, comment and “Like” my posts?
In exchange, I will write as many inspirational quotes and thoughts so you can share or copy and paste.
I will try to reach as many travel agents as I can.
It’s difficult to put all my knowledge into “fortune cookie” sized messages, but I promise to continue to try!
Thank you!